The cough reflex has been investigated in insulin dependent diabetic patients with and without autonomic neuropathy. The cough response to inhaled citric acid was determined in eight patients with diabetes who had severe autonomic neuropathy and compared with that in 10 who had no evidence of neuropathy. The patients with autonomic neuropathy had a higher median threshold for the cough response to citric acid (median 50%, range 20- greater than 100%) than non-neuropathic control patients (median 10%, range 2-20%). These results suggest that vagal innervation of the bronchial tree is damaged by diabetic autonomic neuropathy.
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